EOU Men’s Cross Country Clocks in at No. 8 in First NAIA Top 25 Rankings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In the recently announced NAIA Men’s Cross Country Top 25 rankings, Eastern Oregon University’s men’s cross country team rose to an impressive 8th position, up from their preseason rank of 9th. This achievement underscores the dedication, hard work, and exceptional skill exhibited by the team early in this competitive season.

Eastern Oregon held firm to a 4th place position during the Cougar Classic Invitational in Colfax. The team’s Justin Ash led the Mountaineers at the Cougar Classic, finishing 17th with a time of 25:04.4. At the CCC Preview in Caldwell, Eastern Oregon’s James Thatcher paved the way, clocking in 6:28.7 at the 2k mark, eventually placing 21st with a time of 19:40.4. 

“I am pleased with the men’s rank,  especially as we had a rough day last Friday afternoon in Colfax,” said head coach Ben Welch. “The fact that the men moved up one spot from the preseason poll after a tough day in the heat last week is a testament to the depth and quality of this group of young men.”

Eastern Oregon’s rise in the rankings places them among the elite programs in the country, with Indiana Wesleyan securing the top spot. The rankings, voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing various conferences, are determined through a meticulous points system based on the ranking given by each voter.

The Women’s Cross Country team also received votes in the latest poll, ranking just outside of the Top 25. 

“I am ok with being right outside the top 25 as most teams around the County have raced two or three times to our one meet,” added Welch.  “Additionally, most of those teams have raced either the traditional 5000 or the new Championship distance of 6000 and our ladles raced a 4000 last week, so it does make it a little harder to estimate where they are. However, they continue to get respect in the poll and are training well, so No. 27 is just fine right now.” 

Eastern Oregon looks forward to maintaining their momentum and aims to solidify their standing as one of the premier men’s cross country teams in the nation. The Mounties will return to the trail September 30th, when they head to Salem in order to compete in the 48th Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational.

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